Design and development of the HARMONI spectrograph and study of Jovian satellites

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Oxford Physics


This thesis focuses on advancing the design of HARMONI, the first light integral field spectrograph for the 39 metre Extremely Large Telescope (ELT) currently being built by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). HARMONI will produce data which will enable ground breaking investigations in Astronomy and Solar System Science following the first light in 2025. This thesis project contributes significantly to the success of the larger instrument and will therefore have a high impact on the research which will be enabled by HARMONI in the coming years. In this way, the thesis advances the Building International Influence strategic theme. Additionally, by advancing the technologies and methods required to build such instruments, this project will improve the outcomes of future instruments.

The thesis project includes an observational investigation of Jovian moons using the MUSE instrument on ESO's VLT with the objectives of determining their surface composition and better understanding integral field spectroscopy. This research falls within the Astronomy & Space Science Technology research area and is done as part of the HARMONI science team's exploration of Solar System applications for the instrument. Observing with MUSE also highlights the top level requirements for this type of instrument to produce high quality scientific data in this research area.

Additionally, this project contributes directly to the success of HARMONI by advancing laboratory techniques required to assemble refractive cameras operating at cryogenic temperatures. These techniques build on the legacy of KMOS through improved process control and extensive laboratory testing. This experimental work is done in collaboration with members of the HARMONI team at the University of Oxford and STFC's RAL Space.

This thesis also includes experimental investigations into the suitability of commercially available technologies for use in HARMONI. One study looks into the performance and cryogenic survivability of broadband dielectric reflective coatings. If successful, these coatings will significantly increase the fraction of scientific light reaching the detectors in HARMONI. Another study uses a purpose-built radiometric setup to measure optical properties of diffraction gratings, components critical to the overall instrument, at visible and infrared wavelengths. These investigations are done in collaboration with companies including Asahi Spectra, Optics Balzers, Wasatch Photonics, Kaiser Optical, Canon, and Horiba.

The portions of this thesis focused on methods for the cryogenic cameras and the suitability of commercially available technologies fall within the Instrumentation for Particle Physics or Astronomy research area and advance the Developing Advanced Technologies strategic theme.


10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ST/S001409/1 01/04/2019 31/03/2023
2375838 Studentship ST/S001409/1 02/10/2017 31/03/2021 Andrea Hidalgo Valadez